Harsher penalties proposed for knockout game

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Some state lawmakers want to send a clear message to anyone that thinks the so-called ‘knockout game’ is fun. They’re proposing a counter-punch that could land you in prison for at least two years.

With increasing frequency, there have been media reports about a relatively new crime.

A random act of landing a severe blow with a fist with the intention of knocking someone to the ground not to rob them, just a malicious act of violence.

An attack like this on a West Hartford college student at a campus in Massachusetts has prompted a call here in Connecticut for a harsh, mandatory penalty for anyone convicted of playing what’s called the ‘knockout game.’

What happened to West Hartford Police Officer Tom Nagle’s son is what’s prompting state lawmakers to act.

“My eighteen year old son was walking to his dorm one evening, by himself, and random…he was randomly attacked, a single punch to the jaw knocked him to the ground,” said Officer Tom Nagle, West Hartford.

Lest anyone watching thinks this is funny or cool listen to the injuries to officer Nagle’s son.

“His jaw was shattered in multiple places, he has to titanium plants in his jaw and he has eight screws, so the last six weeks he’s been…his meals have been through a straw,” said Nagle.

Fellow police officer and State lawmaker Joe Verrengia has proposed a law that would force such crimes committed by 16 or 17 year olds into adult court with a two year mandatory sentence.

“What this bill attempts to do is to send a clear message to the thugs who engage in this cowardly act, that the state of Connecticut wants no part of this game,” said Rep. Joe Verrengia, (D) Public Safety Committee.

But the director of juvenile cases for the chief public defender says judges already have the discretion needed for these kinds of cases.

“There’s a number of sanction including incarceration that can be meted out in juvenile court and in the right circumstances that case could be moved to adult court under current law and more serious accountability can be imposed on that young person…I think it’s covered,” said Chris Rapillo, Public Defender’s office.

Despite that argument, the bill is garnering support among lawmakers.

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